Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pinch, Punch...

Sunset of our roadtrip
Bizarrely, the 1st October has seen a crazy situation in the USA. The House of Representatives and the Senate have not been able to agree on a budget for the financial year, and as such, the US Government has partially shut down. The average American that we've talked to today has been either mystified, sad or angry about the decision, but the unanimous feeling is that the decision makers in their countries are a bunch of idiots. So in this respect, the average American is not far different from British or Australian people.In real terms what the shutdown means is that close to 1 million American government employees who are considered non essential will be furloughed until the situation has been resolved. These people will not be paid during the lat off, and may not get back pay. This is unbelievably unfair when the politicians are receiving their pay of over $3000 per week, especially seeing they got the country into the mess in the first place.

How will it affect Caroline and I during our holiday? Well, not a great deal to be honest, though we have considered ourselves remarkably fortunate as the main reason we came to the USA was to see some great countryside which is maintained in the National Parks system. Well, today all National Parks were closed. We were sat in a diner in Flagstaff before driving west and a guy came in who was supposed to be working at the nearby Grand Canyon National Park. Instead he was laid off, and apparently state troopers were turning back those who were trying to enter the park. Another coffee drinker at the diner said that Flagstaff was full of coaches that couldn't get to where they were supposed to be going (presumably Grand Canyon) and there were a lot of pissed off coach tourists milling about. We said that we'd been lucky, but would miss out on the Joshua Tree National Park. This great guy advised us to head south, pass through Jerome and go cross country to our final destination in 29 Palms, California. So we had to make a choice, straight across on the interstate, or the longer but prettier route? So far our traveling motto has been 'luck favours the brave', so we carried on with this and went cross country. We weren't exactly sure on the route, or on how long this would take, but what the hell, it's our last full day.

Jerome, an historical hillside town

The view from Jerome

First stop was Jerome. Another place we'd never heard of before. It is an amazing city built on a mountain, that was once a mining boom town, then when that dried up, it became a ghost town, until it was rehabilitated by artists into a wonderful off the beaten track tourist spot. Historically, it is fantastic, but it a visual pleasure with great views down into the valley. It is perhaps the most surprising point of this holiday. The fact that Arizona should have an artists community in a hillside town that wouldn't seem amiss in Tuscany was just unbelievably wonderful.

Jerome, a quaint hillside town brought back from the dead

From Jerome we drove. The drive crossed mountains covered with pine forests, mountains covered with granite rocks, mountains covered with cacti. We drove through meadows, through desert, through forests. We even managed to cross the Colorado River yet again as we passed from Arizona into California. It has been the last full day of our trip here, and we finally had a fabulous sunset, driving through California. Before we reached our destination of 29 Palms, on the edge of the Joshua Tree National Park, we stopped because we were also treated to a light free area where we could see the most amazing star filled night sky. It really was a perfect final day to a holiday. And it comes down to the positive attitude that we've been taking throughout this whole trip. The easy thing to do would have been to allow the closure of the National Parks to finish our holiday, drive via the interstate to the last spot and accept that we'd already experienced a most  memorable roadtrip. But we didn't let them get to us, and just went with the flow again. I once again had to pinch myself to make sure that this is actually real, it has been so great.
We've been through the mountains, and today came the desert

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